View Full Version : KH, TCO: Late night ponderings: MSc or MBA, are they worth it?

06-10-2008, 05:46:28
I'm debating going back to school for a MSc in CS or an MBA. I'm not sure which, or if it's worth it.

Since I've graduated (only a few years ago) with my BSc in CS, I've mostly been working with the investment banks. I've got tons of C++ and finserv experience, but right now that's not in high demand. In the meantime my company is doing lots of C# work, much of it on Microsoft Surface. It's kind of cool, but it's not really high-margin enough for my taste. The company may even be downsizing -- they haven't said it, but it's pretty obvious to me given how many of their clients were Wall Street banks who are now bankrupt or not going to doing more business lately, especially because we're not the cheapest of companies.

This, combined with the fact that I've been planning on moving back out west come April once the SO graduates from school...has got me thinking. Is it worth it go do a (non-course based) MSc in CompSci? How about an MBA? Money/income shouldn't be a problem, given that me going back to school will coincide with the SO making pretty good money in the oilpatch in Alberta, so we'd live...

It's a good time to consider school due to a January application deadline...but I may still end up working more anyway. Decisions, decisions...

07-10-2008, 00:53:03
MSc sounds more interesting to me, but I don't know your personality. Or CS, really. I mean my uncle told me that all you need to know is ifthenelse and fornext. And that he programmed steel mill rolling equations in Basic at home, but at work told his boss that he was using C++, since the manager thought it would have to be better in C++.

If you take time out for an MBA (or really for CS), would advise looking for the most prestigious option possible as the brand essence is valued as are the connections to classmates. And take the application process very seriously. Game the heck out of it. Are you restricted to Alberta though?

07-10-2008, 01:09:52
Yeah, if I do do the MBA it'd be at the University of Calgary at the Haskayne School of Business.

It's not all that prestigious. If it's not a top flight MBA school is it even worth it?


07-10-2008, 02:45:15
I doubt it, unless you get it paid for by an employer or go at night while working.

Better yet, give the SO the heave ho and go frolic at some other place. Kinda wonder how gay friendly B school will be though.

07-10-2008, 04:45:17
Who cares, I'm macho enough.

07-10-2008, 04:46:11

07-10-2008, 05:12:44

07-10-2008, 13:49:46

07-10-2008, 14:48:38
Asher: I don't know about Canada, but there is a large demand for C/C++ programmers in the EU. I actually regret not concentrating more on those languages.

07-10-2008, 15:00:29
There's demand for C/C++ all over the world, the difference is in application domain. There's lots of C/C++ developers, there's not as many as C/C++ developers familiar with the financial services industry. It's a complicated industry and they reward you pretty well for having the experience in the industry.

I'm not worried about being able to get a job if laid off or when I move (whichever happens first), I just don't know if I can get the same kind of money outside of finserv.

07-10-2008, 15:37:56
Asher, how many (if any) of your customers have been in Canada? How many each in London, Chicago, New York (percentage estimate)? Were they all large institutions or were some smaller (i.e. individual hedge funds)?

What type of utility did they want you to develop? Front end stuff for traders? Back end stuff according to models they gave you?

07-10-2008, 16:21:12
I worked for Lehman Brothers (out of New York City) for two years, then Washington Mutual (Seattle) for a few months.

WaMu was not investment related, it was front-end and back-end stuff for a new 2,600-store communication and scheduling application.

But Lehman Brothers I did a bunch of different projects. Most of the time was on their "hub" for trading activity, an application called SmartTicket. I exclusively worked on the backend on that, it was the center of their workflow for any and all fixed income, credit, and equity trades. We imported them from other Lehman systems, from external counterparties, and created deals ourselves. We also exported these deals to DTCC, counterparties, and other Lehman systems. The workflows were ridiculously complicated for various approvals and risk analysis systems depending on ample amounts of business logic. I didn't do any frontend work for this system, just backend (which is really the meat of the whole thing anyway, the frontend just displayed status and had some forms). The challenge here was scaling up performance and synchronizing the databases we had -- NY, London, and Tokyo. Traders in NY still needed to see deals in pseudo-real time as their colleagues in London/TK modified deals, and vice versa. So we had some custom data sync engines also. We always had to add more business logic to the workflows, not to mention new instruments...the industry never stood still.

After that I spent time working for one of the main risk analysis engines which involved implementing financial models as given to us by the research groups. We had a cluster farm for these computations, and the models we were given were purely academically written. We had to figure out how to make them run in a parallel computation environment and make them run quickly and reliably, because it was unacceptable for a deal to be pending risk processing for more than a minute or so and the models and simulations they were required to do were very intense. Also wrote some custom queuing logic and load balancing applications to scale the speed up.

There was also some short stints in some internal tools for issue reporting from traders and an XML conversion tool to translate between Lehman's XML data format and other banks.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
07-10-2008, 19:21:56
Did you also do some work for Morgan Stanley?

Just askin'....

07-10-2008, 20:19:17
Not directly, but they were a client of Lehman's Prime Brokerage business and I talked to a couple people there.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
07-10-2008, 20:40:02
So that's why MS is tanking today...

Lazarus and the Gimp
07-10-2008, 21:02:22
Fuck me. Asher's a modern day Jonah.

07-10-2008, 23:48:57
If you have stock in Adecco, I'd sell it.

07-10-2008, 23:53:37
I've also talked with people at Bank of America, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), JPMorgan (a lot), and Barclays.

08-10-2008, 11:52:55
Asher: have you tried simply looking over the relevant job offers?

08-10-2008, 14:56:28
I'm looking, there's nothing too interesting yet. But I'm keeping an eye open.

08-10-2008, 17:25:40
No no, what I mean is to look for the general trend in requirements for your positions of interest.

08-10-2008, 18:03:51
The problem is there are almost no jobs for my positions of interest.

There's ample jobs in other areas (eg, oil sands work in Calgary, service industry software, etc) that I'm not too thrilled about, though.

08-10-2008, 18:10:23

08-10-2008, 18:53:31
There are no pretty buildings in this thread, shoo.

08-10-2008, 19:09:49
Originally posted by Asher
The problem is there are almost no jobs for my positions of interest.

There's ample jobs in other areas (eg, oil sands work in Calgary, service industry software, etc) that I'm not too thrilled about, though.

I know your pain...

09-10-2008, 02:05:27
you're gay too?

09-10-2008, 04:24:07
MBAs are a dime a dozen unless you go to an elite school and even then you're mainly paying for the networking opportunities. Go for the MSc.

09-10-2008, 10:52:17
Japher: yes - I'm a lesbian with a man's body.

Oerdin makes a good point, I think.